Mothers who sing in groups with their baby may be able to overcome symptoms of post-natal depression quicker, a new study suggests.
Researchers worked with 134 mothers to see if singing could help them reduce the symptoms of post-natal depression (PND) for 40 weeks after they gave birth.
The mothers were split into three groups. One group received normal post-natal care, the second engaged in group work with creative play workshops, and the final group received 10 weeks of singing workshops.
As well as learning and listening to new songs, the musical mothers also had the chance to create their own.
The study’s authors found those with symptoms of moderate to severe PND reported a quicker improvement in the singing workshops than those in the usual care group.
There was no difference between those in the play workshop compared with the usual care group.
Gail Barnes told Sky News that singing with her little boy made a big difference to the first few months of his life.
She said: “To say it saved me may be dramatic but it made a massive difference.
“I was very nervous to go out without family, but I was told about this singing group and that was my decision made – I had to get out and go to it.
“Before, it had felt like I was just getting through each day with him, it was monotonous and lonely.
“But here there were other mums, screaming babies, and we were all in it together. I stopped feeling nervous, as did my baby, when we started to learn the songs, and we interacted in a way which was fun.”
Ms Barnes added that one of the biggest benefits was attending the sessions with her baby, rather than singing on her own.
Elaine Bielby, who runs the Music with Mummy sessions in Lincoln, said she had started the group after suffering with PND herself six years ago.
She said: “One of the best things I could do was get out to as many groups as possible.
“We do lots around it – discussion times and nights out – but singing is so important.”
Fellow Music with Mummy member Amelia Foster, who is a singer, said: “I found that going to music groups was more sociable than your average play group, because we have a group goal, and a structure.
“I found at other play groups you could be isolated, but with singing groups, there’s a real team effort.
“As I’m a singer anyway I probably put more into it than your average person, but there’s a real sense of achieving something with your baby.”
Principal investigator Dr Rosie Perkins, a research fellow at the Centre for Performance Science, said: “Post-natal depression is debilitating for mothers and their families, yet our research indicates that for some women something as accessible as singing with their baby could help to speed up recovery at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.”
Commenting on the study, Dr Trudi Seneviratne, chairwoman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Faculty, said: “It’s exciting to hear about the growing evidence base for novel psycho-social interventions such as singing to facilitate a more rapid recovery for women with post-natal depression.”
PND affects approximately one in nine new mothers.